11th October 2013
The government justifies the cut in the 50p tax rate for the very high-earners by stating that when taxation requirements are made too stringent, people finds means to evade paying tax altogether.
They seem to conveniently overlook this theory when it comes to family immigration. An attempt to wave a flag saying “look, we’ve reached our net migration target”, however short-term this may be for comes at the expense of the public purse as more and more families are finding alternative means to living in their home country with their family.
UK’s immigration rules
Non-EEA family members granted the right to enter or remain in UK under our immigration rules have no recourse to public funds as a condition of their right to live here.
Immigration rules brought in on 9 July 2012 attack British citizens and residents who wish to simply reside here with these very same non-EEA family members, still with no recourse to public funds.
These rules are an attempt by the government to attack those who have the right to claim benefits (whether they actually do claim or not is not assessed), but also in what is an open secret, an attempt to reduce net migration by making the environment in the UK hostile to discourage immigration and encourage emigration. This is the only way the government can attempt to reach its net migration target of under 100,000 without closing our borders. (That a net migration target is nonsensical in the first place is another subject altogether.)
The government even put together a group to achieve exactly this aim, naming it the Hostile Environment Working Group, with no pretence at being anything remotely noble.
The government, and more specifically the Home Office, seem to think that British citizens/residents will give up and meekly or not, exit the UK eventually rather than be separated from their families. They are half right. We will not let ourselves be separated from family. However the government has spectacularly underestimated the strength of the family bond and the natural human instinct to preserve it.
BritCits has followed the response of impacted British citizens and residents to UK’s immigration rules with great interest over the last 12 months. Generally, the response falls into one of the following categories:
a) A resignation by British ex-pats to living in exile and never being able to return home to raise children (who may also be British) or look after elderly British parents.
Impact: Denying all the benefit of British citizenship, denying minors the right to a British education and upbringing and forcing British elderly to rely on social care rather than the dignity of being looked after by family.
b) British citizens/residents leaving the UK to join their non-EEA family members in another country.
Impact: Loss of tax revenue by way of income tax and VAT, as would have been paid by the British citizen/resident and their family members. NHS and businesses also impacted as those with skills very much in demand are now making the move out of the UK to countries with more family friendly rules in order to look after elderly parents. This has been evidenced by British Medical Association.
c) British citizens/residents living apart from their non-EEA family member, often at the detriment of British children.
Impact: British children are forced into a single parent upbringing and denied access to grandparents. Studies show access to both parents and grandparents actually leads to a better quality of life for the child.
d) British citizens exercising treaty rights afforded to them by the EU by living in another country within the region with their family members. This tends to involve no language or income requirements, nil application fees and respect for the right to be with your family. Usually this route allows the British citizens to move back to the UK with their family members without any of constraints of UK’s immigration rules.
British citizens are increasingly refusing to either be separated from family or give up their right to live in the UK. By making family immigration rules so onerous, more families are rejecting the first three routes above and looking at d), a route that has been open to us as EU citizens for over 20 years but one we have not needed because previous rules were for the most part, fair.
This is despite the fact that living and working in another country is neither easy nor cheap. It tends to involve significant upheaval, could threaten career progression and job security, is expensive and stressful and can be traumatic, especially if there are children involved.
However it is a route which has minimal interference from the Home Office and therefore, preferred by people who may have borne the brunt of Home Office incompetence.
By returning home after living and working in another EU country, citizens are making use of the Surinder Singh ruling, allowing citizens the right to live in UK with non-EEA family members and also allowing these very same family members recourse to public funds.
By making it harder for British citizens and residents to sponsor family members who would have no recourse to public funds and pay application fees up to £2000; by using no common sense and finding ridiculous reasons to refuse visas; by encouraging our citizens to move countries even though they would eventually be able to live in the UK with family members who would have recourse to public funds and pay only £55 in application fees, it is the Home Office which is the drain on the public purse. Not hardworking Brits just wishing to live with their family without interference from the state.